tv Oakland CSPAN December 27, 2014 8:00am-8:26am EST
it seemed a remarkable coincidence. it is just that -- a coincidence. it is in a city that's spookimespooky. an uncanny moment. >> thank you. >> any other questions? okay. well, thank you. you have been a great audience. [ applause ] >> feel free to e-mail me. >> in this recent associated press image, protesters are blocking a street in front of the police department to call attention to grand jury decisions in missouri and new york not to prosecute white police officers for the death of unarmed black man. next on american history tv's real america series, the people and the police, oakland, a 1974 documentary.
about police restrict -- about police brutality in various reforms. >> almost from the day it was founded in 1948, the folks -- in 1848, the folks across the bay in san francisco have been making jokes about oakland. there is no there there. gertrude stein is supposed to have said. while the jokes may live on, oakland is no longer that faceless other city across the bay. california's fourth largest city is a booming center of art, industry, and culture. ♪ >> oakland's new glamour and prosperity are not shared equally by all of its citizens. nearly half of the city's
population is nonwhite and many are poor. they do not patronize the symphony or the museums. they don't use the coliseum or airport very much, nor do they hold their share of the jobs created by oakland's new industry, port and transportation facilities. ♪ ♪ most of oakland's black and brown citizens came here from the south during world war ii, lured by recruiters for government and private industry to work in shipyards and defense plants.
after the war, the shipyards closed and many factories moved to the suburbs, leaving most nonwhite workers behind. technology put more workers on the unemployment and welfare lines, where they were joined by newly dispossessed farmers and farm workers forced off the land. by the growth of the agriculture business. during the 1950's, oakland became a stagnant, seating ghetto surrounded by -- oakland's all-white police department earned a reputation for head knocking brutality and has left a well remembered legacy of bitterness in them mind and hearts of many who lived in that time and place. >> i was growing up in the late 1930's and nine teen 40's, okun was perceived as brutal and
there was fear on the part of black people. in west oakland at that time. i remember one specific situation where several young blacks were being apprehended by the police, they went into their homes to put them up for some alleged crime, and i remember one to get a police officer kicking one of the young people, couldn't have been more than 13 years old or 14 years old. i think that the black panthers raised a significant issue, that was the brutality of the police when it came to the black community. >> the police were in the same position as most of government, not being responsive to citizens needs. we inculcated in our placement what i would characterize as a gung ho law enforcement orientation could we talk them laws of arrest, search and
seizure, and patrol procedure practices which could only result in an officer oriented in a very narrow law enforcement way. as we went about this police department as an operational style in the 1950's and some part of the 1960's, stopping people on various pretexts, a mandate from our police department itself. we incurred very, very bad relationships in our communities. >> today, there is a new relationship developing between the people of oakland's ghettos and police. police officials hold regular meetings in the community and they are well received. >> this is one of the greatest things i have seen an oakland in my 30 years here. i never thought i would see the day back in 1947 or 1948 that police would let you sit down and criticize him. >> we will be here if you want us.
it's our responsibility to get out in the community. i'm here to assure you that those men that you see sitting here and those at work 24 hours a day in the seven days a week in the oakland police department will take a humanistic approach to policing. i do care how frustrated our -- i don't care how frustrated our policeman happen to be -- i want to see every citizen treated with dignity. >> i would say there has been tremendous change on the part of the police. i think they're moving away from the head knocking, brutal, physical approach and trying to be more public relations oriented, more community-oriented, and hopefully more sensitive and liberal to their approach to modern law enforcement. i see some dramatic effects -- when the case was juxtaposed. ♪ >> in a moment, a look at how things are going in oakland these days between the people and police.
♪ >>run, --, run. ♪ black boy, don't let the sun go down on this here town. ♪ aren't you going to go to jail, boy? or you might wind up getting dropped six feet down. ♪ >> i joined the department in 1965. it was very different from what it is now. it was a lot more aggressive. i don't care for the word harassment. i would say there was a time when we were a head knocking department. >> there are about 700 men in
the oakland police department, an overwhelming number are white and most live in the suburbs outside the city. patrolman john dixon joined the department after a stint with the coast guard. he grew up in hollister, is a family man, and likes his work. to this extent, he's a typical oakland policeman. >> in the past there was a quota system. if it wasn't down on paper, but it did exist. you are expected to write a number of citations. if you are a good policeman, you made a certain number of arrests. the quota system had to result in more aggressive policing. they had to go out of their way to find certain things and maybe they went a little far. we were trying to use numbers. in arrest, and just about every way. what has happened is that chief
gains said no more quota system. it isn't done today. that is fantastic. we spend more time today talking with people in a lot of situations where they probably would have gone to jail before. i mean a lot of situations. prior to 1968, mid 1960's at least, the philosophy of the department was to operate basically as the legalistic style of police department. gradually, through the late 1960's and early 1970's, we begin to change the style of operations. into what is referred to now as a service style of a police department. >> george hart is opens new police chief. -- is oakland's new police
chief. he assumed leadership of the department and in october 1973 when chief charles gagne retired after 27 years on the force. >> the change came about because it had to come about. to be responsive for the community. the community was saying to us, i think, that we want a police organization which services the entire community in a fair and impartial manner. we want a police organization in which we can have confidence. >> first, we would like to get you to think as well as you can about the way you looked at police work and the way of operating before you even started training. it's opens new policing style is a product of an unusual collaboration between the police and social scientists. one scientist is j douglas grant, research for the present system. -- for the california prison
system. grant and his colleagues have been successful in helping criminals overcome their own violent behavior through a process of self-study. in 1969, they convinced police officials that by helping violence prone policeman study their own behavior, they could reverse the spiral of violence between the police and the people of oakland. former chief charles gagne agreed that it was worth a try and they went to work with a grant from the federal government. today, the self-study process is carried on by the department's conflict management section. >> at the time, there was no regard to the quality of the work. it was just basically a numbers game. >> one idea that developed early in the self-study process was that of tape recording actual confrontations between oakland police officers and potentially violent citizens. the recordings have proved invaluable in understanding how to avoid conflict and are now used in training new police officers in the art of discretionary decision-making.
>> a police officer probably has the broadest powers of discretion and caring out his functions than any other citizen. what we are going to do today is sit down and listen to to patrolman as a interview -- intervene in a family dispute. we are not saying that everything they do in this case is the right way to do it. they made certain decisions throughout this tape. wigan is a down and critique them step-by-step. this is an actual street incident. it is a real policeman and real people. >> some individual officers when they come into their enemy -- into the academy feel that they are coming in to be trained to be a tremendous crimefighter. that's only a portion of their training, how to combat crime. a lot of it is how to do with people, solved their everyday
problems. >> all right then, arrest me -- >> i would kind of like to talk about it first -- >> you understand me? you understand me? you ain't got nothing. >> what we are trying to provide, promote, is an officer who does his job, does it well, does it efficiently, who does infect produce, but who at the -- who does in fact produce, but who at the same time is a very humanistic individual. who understands community, who understands himself in the department. >> he told you in 20 different ways what the problem is. does anybody know -- one of the officers has already identified it?
>> she doesn't want him back. but he wants her back. >> i don't want them to use force, because there are some times when they must use force. i'm saying that there are all different ways to establish your authority as a police officer. you can establish authority by -- you can establish it by showing concern, pure physical force is not an absolute. that is not the only way one controls the situation. >> what i need is a woman, man. i can't seem to find one. i'm looking at this one right here but i cannot find one. i have been getting drunk almost every night. >> what's the problem? he is screaming it to you. >> it seems i get my be sex. >> why didn't you said earlier? i very simple thing. >> the oakland police do more and>> the oakland police do more than just talk about violence
prevention in their academy classes. each time an officer must use force in the performance of his duty, it is reported to a computer. periodically the computer selects those officers with an unusually high number of critical incidents. they are then invited to appear before a panel of fellow officers who review and meticulous detail his handling of the situation that resulted in violence. >> we are asking you to be very candid with us. we are asking you to admit your mistakes. every guy on this panel has made some of the same mistakes that you have made, none of us are perfect. what we are trying to do is find better ways to do things. >> the action review panel is both voluntary and confidential, no record is kept, and no disciplinary action is involved. an officer may sit for as long as eight hours while his peers question and analyze his actions, judgment am a personal
attitude, even his mannerisms. yet, since the panels were started in 1971, no man has refused to participate. the moderator of the action review panel is officer bob crawford of the conflict management section. in this case, the first ever found, the man in the hot seat is officer gerhardt. >> details, complain and state the suspect had an illegitimate child and refuse to stay home. suspect would not talk to us and had to be physically subdued to be taken into custody. >> ok, what happened? >> i don't remember. >> things like this are official records that can be suspended -- subpoenaed in court. somebody he hit you with a report just like that. you could put on the stand and be sued. two years later you would be looking at the guy and saying i did physically subdue a 17 euro
girl who had only been out of the hospital for three weeks after having given birth to a baby and i don't remember a thing about it. it could make you look very poorly. >> he has settled panels before. i think it struck him being different to be sitting in that seat rather than in one of the other seats. >> you could've had your head blown off. with euro and gun. >> i don't know. >> listen to what he's saying. >> i am. >> i know that. >> i don't care how great you are. you cannot handle to guys properly. >> he realized he had a -- he -- a small man complex. he had to take the first affirmative action arrest situation to overcome the small man. thing. which he doesn't have to do. he works very effectively. >> i wanted to let you know about what the whole object of these panels are.
we're supposed to look into why, and i wanted to ask a question, is he one of these men is that he's not as big in stature as some of us and he's -- he has a small man's complex. maybe he's taking it out on the kids. >> the thing about the size -- i was 155 then -- i'm not defensive about it. i don't think i am. i am aware of my size, especially when a person is bigger than me. >> if there was no panel and no one to call attention to the fact that an officer did have a particular problem, whether bs -- whether it be a small man complex or what have you, he would acted out in the street and it would be misread. >> i have seen the real heartache -- sit to the panel, totally reject the panel, yet go out and do a different job than he was doing before.
>> you pointed up some things like that i was aware of sort of halfway and did not think it was really showing too much. it's good to have other people to use something that you and you are already a load of. -- aware of. then you know other people are aware of it and you make a better effort to control it or whatever, i think. that panel was good. you could do good panel. -- you picked a good panel. there is not an officer here i don't respect and from that aspect, i think it's good. if there were a bunch of turkey sitting here, i would left a long time ago. and you would have heard about it in the locker room. >> the suspect is considered 5150, should be considered armed and dangerous, wanted for conspiracy and forgery. >> the inception of the action review panel and other self-study techniques there have been a dramatic drop in the
number of conflict between the police and the people of oakland. resistance to arrest and assaults on police officers dropped as much as 30% in a single year while citizen complaints against police officers have been cut in half. policemen are traditionalist, many still admire the ideal of the supercop, the tough, resourceful, courageous law man who always catch the crook. some of oakland's finest are still uncomfortable with their departments news style and philosophy. >> it is basically two parts to the job, one part is enforcing the law and the second part is let's say helping people, our relationships with people are better than they used to be, but as far as enforcement of the law, we are slacking off. that is part of the job. >> john dixon works in the
hard-core ghetto of west oakland. the neighborhood is very poor animals exclusively black. -- and almost exclusively black. it is not an easy beat for a white policeman working alone. >> you have to be realistic. your child may go to some more as a result of my talking -- to her. >> i don't think he can go through no more. than any other kid that's on the street. >> i'm of two minds, we are dealing with the people in a much better frame of mind, the results are much better when i go into people's houses, you don't get as much as a hassle as you used to. you are still respected as a policeman. the public respects us more. i get a lot more cooperation. you find out that more people are at least willing to give you information on the side and they
were before. more people are inclined to give you a helping hand, when before, very few people were. >> i'm just going to my girlfriend's. i have not been involved in a burglary. >> are remember when i first came on the force, if you stop the car, you immediately -- you don't normally gather the crowds today, but when you do, the people don't tend to be as hostile. the quality of the arrest we are making our much better, know that about it. -- no doubt about it. >> i think that we are getting lethargic. we are sitting back and accepting the fact that we are a service oriented apartment, -- department which i think people are inclined to think we are at the beck and call a people. -- of people. that is what a lot of us are doing, sitting back waiting to
be called. >> unless you want to run him here. >> we are more community relations orientated, more service type department, and i think it the expense of enforcement, law enforcement. >> the so-called service style is not per se a week approach to the problem at all. if anything, it is a stronger approach, have an effective, alert police department which does in fact engage in heads up police work, aggressive patrol. the is what the community wants p that is why we exist. if you would like the department to go back to the head knocking, legalistic department it used to be. >> nope. i don't think anybody wants it to go back that far. not that far. >> it would create the same old problem as we had before, i hostile society, problems on the simplest of things, just talking to people in the streets, i
don't think we would have as much success of we went back to that. >> i believe more than i believe anything that the officers in this department do in fact want to do and do in fact accomplish a very capable level of policing the oakland community. i believe that they support totally the concept that any police organization can only operate in a fair and lawful manner. >> you think you have to make a choice between community relations and good enforcement? >> no. they can work hand-in-hand. it's obvious they can. ♪ >> hey you, mr. police
you better heed the warning because the handwriting is on the wall hey you, mr. police chief you better he'd the people's warning because the handwriting is on the wall so have fun while you can, just like -- the walls of jericho you are , bound to fall. ♪ >> join american history tv tonight on the civil war as historians and others talk about factors that impact of lincoln's